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Phuket Sports: England in for hard time with Italian visit

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Phuket Sports: England in for hard time with Italian visit | The Thaiger
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PHUKET: Glasgoq Warriors flyhalf Duncan Weir will make his first start for Scotland in Saturdays’s Six Nations championship match against Wales at Murrayfield after replacing Ruaridh Jackson in the squad announced on Tuesday,

Weir, 21, who has won his three previous caps from the bench, is one of two changes to the starting lineup who defeated Ireland in the last round.

British and Irish Lions tighthead prop Euan Murray, who missed the Ireland match because he does not play on Sundays for religious reasons, replaces Geoff Cross who returns to the bench.

“It’s a moment I’ll cherish and hopefully I can do the coaches justice for giving me the start,” Weir told the Scottish Rugby Union website.

Scotland interim head coach Scott Johnson said Weir had played well after coming on as a replacement in the 12-8 win over Ireland on February 24.

“He’s a talent with a really good work ethic and a thirst to improve, which I like a lot,” Johnson said.

“Geoff was a standout against Ireland and it’s up to Euan, who fronted up big time against Italy, to raise the bar again.”

Scotland, who have beaten Italy and Ireland after losing to England in the first round, share second place in the standings with Wales on four points. England, the only unbeaten team with two rounds remaining, head the table with six points.

Team:15-Stuart Hogg, 14-Sean Maitland, 13-Sean Lamont, 12-Matt Scott, 11-Tim Visser, 10-Duncan Weir, 9-Greig Laidlaw, 8-Johnnie Beattie, 7-Kelly Brown (captain), 6-Robert Harley, 5-Jim Hamilton, 4-Richie Gray, 3-Euan Murray, 2-Ross Ford, 1-Ryan Grant.

Replacements: 16-Dougie Hall, 17-Moray Low, 18-Geoff Cross, 19-Alastair Kellock, 20-Ryan Wilson, 21-Henry Pyrgos, 22-Ruaridh Jackson, 23-Max Evans.

Ireland flyhalf Jonathan Sexton has been ruled out of his side’s Six Nations championship match against France on Saturday through injury, leaving a place open for either Paddy Jackson or Ian Madigan.

Coach Declan Kidney, who named the remainder of his team on Tuesday, will decide whether to give Leinster’s Madigan his debut or retain Ulster’s Jackson who struggled with place kicking in his debut against Scotland last time out.

Elsewhere, Fergus McFadden comes in on the wing for the injured Craig Gilroy, Mike McCarthy returns after injury to the second row and Cian Healy is back at loosehead prop after serving a one-match suspension.

“Just before I walked in the decision was taken to withdraw Johnny Sexton but that Paddy will be good to go at training on Thursday,” Kidney told a news conference, referring to a tight hamstring that kept Jackson from training.

“Paddy trained in the position yesterday, Ian trained there this morning and I’m sure they’ll both be available on Thursday and we’ll then make the call.”

The defeat to Scotland, Ireland’s second loss in three matches in this season’s campaign, has piled the pressure on Kidney who oversaw a disappointing Six Nations last year and is out of contract this year.

Sexton, bound for French side Racing Metro next season, should be fit for Ireland’s final outing against Italy along with Ulster wing Gilroy who will train again later this week after suffering a groin injury, Kidney added.

McFadden, who has not been part of the match day squad this year but who has place kicked for Leinster, leapfrogged club mate Luke Fitzgerald to start in place of Gilroy.

Team: 15-Rob Kearney, 14-Fergus McFadden, 13-Brian O’Driscoll, 12-Luke Marshall, 11-Keith Earls, 10-Paddy Jackson/Ian Madigan, 9-Conor Murray, 8-Jamie Heaslip (captain), 7-Sean O’Brien, 6-Peter O’Mahony, 5-Donnacha Ryan, 4-Mike McCarthy, 3-Mike Ross, 2-Rory Best, 1-Cian Healy

Replacements: 16-Sean Cronin, 17-David Kilcoyne, 18-Stephen Archer/Michael Bent, 19-Donncha O’Callaghan, 20-Iain Henderson, 21-Eoin Reddan, 22-Paddy Jackson/Ian Madigan, 23-Luke Fitzgerald.

England’s back row options for the Six Nations clash at home to Italy this weekend have increased after Leicester’s Tom Croft joined the squad on Monday after his recent return from a serious neck injury.

The Six Nations had looked an unlikely aim for Croft, who suffered a triple fracture to his neck a year ago but his return to first-team action with Leicester means he could play some role in England’s push for a grand slam.

“The indications last week were that it might be a bit early for Tom to get involved in this Six Nations,” England head coach Stuart Lancaster said in an RFU statement.

“But having played back to back games he has now had the all clear from the specialist and Leicester’s and our medics.

“I also had a good chat with (Leicester coach) Richard Cockerill. He is happy with his form and we can clearly see he is playing well, but most importantly Tom feels he is ready – it is great to have him back in.”

Croft made his fifth start for Leicester since returning in January last weekend, impressing in the thrashing of Sale, and while England do have plenty of options in the back row, the experienced Croft’s return is a boost.

“We have competition in all places but the back row is very competitive and to have Tom available just adds to that so we are looking forward to seeing how he does this week,” Lancaster said.

The 27-year-old has won 36 caps for England since making his debut in 2008.

England are on course for a clean sweep in the Six Nations after wins against Scotland, Ireland and France. They face Italy on Sunday and conclude against Wales in Cardiff on March 16.

Wales recalled grand slam winning captain Sam Warburton to the starting lineup for Saturday’s Six Nations clash with Scotland but retained Ryan Jones as skipper after two successive away victories.

Warburton, who started on the bench in the 26-9 win over Italy on February 23 after missing the previous round victory over France with a shoulder injury, replaces Justin Tipuric at openside flanker to join Jones and number eight Toby Faletau in the backrow.

British and Irish Lions lock Alun Wyn Jones returns to the starting XV after injury to partner Ian Evans in place of Andrew Coombs while Paul James takes over at loosehead prop from Gethin Jenkins, who has failed to recover from a calf injury sustained in the Italy match.

Interim head coach Rob Howley has named an unchanged backline for a match in which his team will attempt to become the first Wales side to win five successive away victories in the tournament.

“We have had two good, hard-fought away victories but we know we will have to be at our best again to come away from Murrayfield with the result,” Howley told the Welsh Rugby Union website.

“It’s disappointing for Gethin to miss out but Paul has impressed and made an impact in each game he has played.

“We are bringing in a wealth of experience with Alun Wyn and Sam and they both performed well off the bench in Rome. Ryan has led the team to two wins and deserves to captain the side against Scotland.”

Team: 15-Leigh Halfpenny, 14-Alex Cuthbert, 13-Jonathan Davies, 12-Jamie Roberts, 11-George North, 10-Dan Biggar, 9-Mike Phillips, 8-Toby Faletau, 7-Sam Warburton, 6-Ryan Jones (captain), 5-Ian Evans, 4-Alun Wyn Jones, 3-Adam Jones, 2-Richard Hibbard, 1-Paul James.

Replacements: 16-Ken Owens, 17-Scott Andrews, 18-Ryan Bevington, 19-Andrew Coombs, 20-Justin Tipuric, 21-Lloyd Williams, 22-James Hook, 23-Scott Williams.

— Reuters

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Air Pollution

Salty tap water and dirty air – Bangkok’s environmental woes continue today

The Thaiger

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Salty tap water and dirty air – Bangkok’s environmental woes continue today | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Government House officials are turning to salt-tolerant plants - khaosod.co.th

Brackish tap water, with increased salinity caused by seawater back-flowing into the Chao Phraya River, is threatening the gardens in and around the Government House compound. Government House officials are seeking assistance from the Agriculture Department.

Several small tree species – Lamduan, Chor Sumalee, Rachavadi, Nom Maew and Hom Muenlee – are more vulnerable to brackish tap water. The gardens are watered from a supply pumped in from the Chao Phraya.

It’s been noted tha the saline level was around 400 milligrams per litre, still within the 1,000 mg/litre standard, but some of the species were already intolerant to the rising salinity.

Officials are seeking advice from the Agriculture Department about long-term measures to replant with species which would be more tolerant to the rising salinity of the water – situation they acknowledge will need to be managed in the short to medium term.

Salty tap water and dirty air - Bangkok's environmental woes continue today | News by The Thaiger

SCREENGRAB: Air Visual

Meanwhile, air around the capital today continues to be universally poor to very poor with readings as high as 187 near Suvarnabhumi Airport. Light airs, dust problems from northern-easter provinces and hot continental air flowing across the capital, continue to haunt Bangkok. Even with many factories closed today, and traffic lighter than weekdays, Bangkok’s air has been recorded as the ninth worst city in the world for air pollution.

Right across the city the air quality readings are into the ‘unhealthy’ zone.

Chiang Mai, Lampang and Central Thailand are fairing no better – all with readings at least 3 times the Thai upper safe limit of 50 microns of 2.5micron particulate per cubic metre. The World Health Organisation sets its limit even lower at 25.

Pattaya has air quality readings today of 162, whilst even Phuket, in the south, is registering readings between 100 and 145 with reduced visibility today.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

Salty tap water and dirty air - Bangkok's environmental woes continue today | News by The Thaiger

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Business

Three massive condo developments along Phuket’s up-market Layan Beach

Bill Barnett

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Three massive condo developments along Phuket’s up-market Layan Beach | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Northern end of Layan Beach - True-beachfront

by Bill Barnett – c9hotelworks.com

Two new condo developments are going ahead in the Layan Beach area of Phuket’s up-market west-coast beach strip. And there’s another one underway next to the Dream Beach Club at the northern end of the Layan beach strip. All in all, another 1,200+ keys added to the available rooms along the Bang Tao/Layan Beach area.

On the northern side of Bangtao Beach, next to Maan Tawan and nearby Banyan Tree Phuket is the upcoming Sunshine Beach development. With a plan for 771 hotel and residences units on 12.6 rai, the high-density project is targeting Mainland Chinese buyers with pricing points reportedly starting from 4 million baht. Construction is expected to start in June of this year and complete in 2022.

From our discussion with sales staff the developer has claimed they have reached an agreement with the government for beach fronting facilities in the National Park strip in front of the project.

While in Layan next to Lotus Gardens is the upcoming 400 unit Layan Green Park. Pricing points run from 2.5 million baht. Unit configurations will range from studio, to one, two and three bedrooms. Guaranteed returns of 10% for a period of 10 years are being promoted.

Phuket’s Layan area is seeing a surge in new real estate led projects and rising land values. At the same time as these two projects are underway, next to the Dream Beach is an oceanfront luxury project promoting sales of Grand Beach Villa and Ocean View Suites tagged as ‘N5’. The developer of the project is VIP Thailand who have another project in Rawai.

Based on our research the primary source market tragets of these three projects are mainland Chinese and Russian buyers. Local concerns in the Cherngtalay area over mounting traffic, water shortages and strain on municipal infrastructure are becoming issues.

Traffic in and around the central Cherngtalay shopping district is becoming increasingly clogged with little hope for respite other than improved traffic management.

SOURCE: C9Hotelworks.com

Three massive condo developments along Phuket's up-market Layan Beach | News by The Thaiger

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Business

Minor International battles Marriott over popular Phuket hotel property in court

The Thaiger

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Minor International battles Marriott over popular Phuket hotel property in court | The Thaiger
PHOTO: MINOR International are trying to kick Marriott out of it's Mai Khao property - Booking.com

Marriott International, the American international hotel company, has failed in its bid to secure an injunction in a Thai court to stop a legal claim filed by the Minor International group.

Minor International (MINT) says that its subsidiary MI Squared Ltd had filed a legal claim in a Thai court against Marriott International and the Thai subsidiary Luxury Hotels & Resorts (Thailand) for 570,605,134 baht. The claim is linked to the JW Marriott Phuket Resort & Spa in Mai Khao, which is owned by MINT. In the statement, MINT accuses Marriott of “acting in bad faith” alleging “serious and repeated breaches of Thai law”, according to ttrweekly.com.

The complaint from MINT alleges that Marriott was openly competing with the JW Marriott Phuket through its operation of competing Marriott-branded hotels in Phuket. Claims are made that the Mai Khao hotel uses its facilities to promote Marriott’s other competing Marriott hotels. Another of the complaints accuses Marriott of forcing the JW Marriott Phuket to accept high volumes of low-margin business through the Marriott’s loyalty program.

According to the ttrweekly.com article, the legal dispute includes allegations that Marriott “misappropriated MINT’s confidential and proprietary information” to promote Marriott’s competing hotels and unlawfully benefit Marriott’s own interests at the expense of MINT. The JW Marriott Phuket remains under Marriott’s management for now but “the operating performance has been poor”.

MINT told shareholders total hotel revenue decreased from 920 million in 2013 to 876 million baht last year. Over the same period, gross operating profit fell from 409 million to 379 million baht.

(It should be noted that many of Phuket’s high-end hotels have suffered a similar revenue fall due to increased competition, competitive pressures pushing room rates down and, especially over the past 12 months, a shift in tourist demographics.)

Marriott International issued a statement to ttrweekly.com following a request for comment.

“Marriott International acknowledges that a subsidiary of Minor International has initiated legal action in Thailand against Marriott and one of its Thai subsidiaries. Marriott reiterates that such claim is meritless and should be heard in confidential arbitration.

Our Thai subsidiary recently secured an interim injunction in arbitral proceedings restraining MINT’s subsidiary from pursuing the action in Thailand. We subsequently agreed with MINT to suspend the Thai proceedings pending the final outcome of our ongoing arbitration. As we intend to comply with our contractual confidentiality obligations, we are unable to provide more information at this time.

We consider JW Marriott Phuket Resort & Spa has performed well compared to the market. The dispute will have no impact on operations at the hotel, which continues to offer guests with world-class service and accommodations, a beachfront location and eleven culinary options.”

SOURCE: ttrweekly.com

Minor International battles Marriott over popular Phuket hotel property in court | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: marriott.com

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